Major League Baseball is taking a step toward ensuring pitcher safety.
According to ESPN.com and MLB.com, MLB is working with six manufacturers on designs for padded hats that pitchers could wear to minimize the risk of head injuries on line drives back up the middle.
Samples might be ready for voluntary testing during spring training, and the caps could be in use in the minor leagues next year, MLB.com reported.
Rob Vito, president of Unequal Technologies Co. of Pennsylvania, one of the companies in talks with MLB, told ESPN.com that its cap padding weighs 4.3 ounces and is one-eighth of an inch thick.
Another company, EvoShield, has a liner that weighs less than five ounces and is one-quarter of an inch thick, a company spokesman told ESPN.com.
According to Vito, his company was contacted by New Era, MLB's hat manufacturer, months before two scary incidents highlighted the potential danger to pitchers.
Oakland A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive hit by Angels shortstop on Sept. 5. McCarthy was able to walk off under his own power, but he was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull and a brain contusion. He underwent emergency surgery that evening, but he since has made a full recovery.
McCarthy signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks last week.
In Game 2 of the World Series, San Francisco Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco hit a line drive that struck Detroit Tigers right-hander Doug Fister in the head. Fister escaped uninjured.